Special Issue of The Educational Forum

I am pleased to announce a special issue of The Educational Forum, which I guest edited. Several years ago, I was at a conference attended by teacher educators and several teacher candidates. Toward the end of a session focused on student-centered teaching, a teacher candidate, looking clearly flustered, spoke. She pointed out that the older teacher […]

Critical Family History Book Review: Bella’s Legacy

Who was Bella, and what might be her legacy? In her debut novel, Luanna Meyer fictionalizes four generations of her family history, with a focus on the women and their life choices. Journalist Bella Colquhoun emerges as the novel’s fictionalized writer. Young widowhood, lost babies, triumph and regret, conflict and reconciliation, dreams taken up and […]

Esoteric Clues: It’s no secret that slave-owners fathered children with their slaves

The claimant’s mother’s name was Clora, and since you ask me I will tell you that Overton, her owner was the father of the claimant.  “I will tell you everything you ask me.” — Testimony of former slave Nancy Hawkins, in the Civil War pension file of Henry Jones (March 12, 1920) It’s no secret […]

Claiming the Legacy of Oppression through Art

  I Am My White Ancestors: Claiming the Legacy of Oppression is a touring installation and public engagement project. It contains thirteen life-size photographic self-portraits that explore European-American heritage, family history, and its legacy of oppression in the history of race, class, colonization, and genocide. The personas, real and imagined, span over 2000 years from […]

Immigration and White People’s History

Today in response to immigration issues, we often hear white people say something like, “My ancestors came here legally, why can’t ‘they’?” This kind of wondering leads many to support deportations of anyone who is undocumented.  It can be very eye-opening, however, for white people to look critically at immigration within our own family histories. […]

Repatriation of Land to Tribes

My second novel, The Inheritance, deals with repatriation of land that was stolen from Indigenous peoples. The novel traces my own experience of uncovering the history of an inheritance, finding that it originated in my great-grandparents homesteading land from which the Utes had been expelled. My great-grandparents sold the homestead and bought land in Steamboat […]

Butler, a white man taking a stand against slavery

Who was Benjamin Franklin Butler, and why would anyone care? I am in the process of exploring ideas for my third novel, and am considering Butler as a historical character. My two previous novels – White Bread and The Inheritance – have featured present-day educators wrestling with social justice issues that link the present with […]

Genealogy and Anti-Racism: A Resource for White People 

I want to connect my love of genealogy with the work of anti-racism. As a child and teenager, I loved genealogy. With handwritten charts and typed biographies, I had no question about the goodness of what I was doing. I was honoring and preserving the past. What could be better? Eventually, I went off to […]

Critical Family History Book Review: Before we were Yours

Adoption presents challenges to family historians. Perhaps the greatest challenge is figuring out how important it is to trace biological ancestors, especially if they have had little or no role in actually raising a person. Lisa Wingate, in Before we were Yours (Ballantine, 2017), grapples with this question, although her purpose is mainly to critique […]

Confronting Racism at Home

As a white teacher educator who has taken on the “daunting” (Sleeter, 2008) work of antiracist education with preservice teachers, the work of critical family history is beginning to play a key role in my classroom. Importantly, critical family history is giving me insights into my family’s complicity in the fight against multiculturalism, as it […]